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"Ten things Christians and Atheists can and must agree on." An article that would serve this community well

Whether you're Christian, atheist, or anything else, please read and try to keep an open mind

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This describes me perfectly when I was a fear filled victim of religious brainwashing. I was raised in the Mormon church. There, once a month you will see small children get up in front of the whole congregation and proclaim, "I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet." (while their parents are whispering in their ear, telling them what to say) The congregation delights in these young children "knowing" what they are supposed to, and don't think it's any different with small children in any other Christian religion. They don't "Know" Jesus is real anymore than they "know" Santa is real. Very sad state of affairs indeed. When you believe there is a god, watching everything you say, do, and even THINK, and this god has the power to banish you (most basic, primal fear), you don't want to piss him off!

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
-Thomas Paine

Agnostic, not atheist?

'An Athiest does not believe in gods, but makes no pretense at saying what is out there.'

If you do not believe in some form of gods beyond nature, then you only believe in a purely natural reality -- Nature is the 'whole show' that explains everything. This is a belief. You may have arguments from observations that you consider to support your belief, but it's still a belief.

If you make no pretense to say what is really out there, then it sounds like you are actually an agnostic, not an atheist.

Regarding theists, they too make observations of the world around them and see in them arguments for a belief in something beyond Nature as the whole show. Observation of human behavior, of the mere existence of human reasoning as something standing apart from a pure cause-and-effect explanation, of the patterns of human conscience throughout history, and of the staggering beauty and complexity in the creation are all factors taken into account by the theist. Your version of why people like me believe what they believe is an oversimplification. I am not afraid to question anything and everything, even the existence of God or the nature of hell.

I'd recommend reading CS Lewis' 'Miracles' if you have ears to hear a theist make arguments from observation and reasoning.

Not true.

    If you do not believe in some form of gods beyond nature, then you only believe in a purely natural reality -- Nature is the 'whole show' that explains everything.

Not true at all. What if something aside from a god or gods exists beyond nature? Why would any human posit to have a firm grasp of what is beyond nature? It is by definition everything you know and experience, including the words of every holy book.

I will never claim to know what is beyond nature because there is insufficient evidence, and due to the degree of inconclusiveness involved, I also feel uncomfortable contemplating belief in the subject. Why would I believe when I have zero grounds for true knowledge? That just seems like a waste of my time - if it's spirituality we're concerned with, there are more pertinent things to contemplate, like 'how should one compose one's life?' which itself leads to several other questions, IE: 'how should one compose one's life regarding health?' etc.

Humans have a genetic inclination to be spiritual, and I would be a fool to place negative judgments on any of them for that. The question of theism or atheism is irrelevant to me, therefor I am an atheist. It doesn't mean I'm not spiritual or that I regard the questions of metaphysics as resolved.

Your description of your views...

... is more agnostic than atheistic, I think.

Regarding something beyond nature, or the supernatural, what kinds of things are you positing beyond pantheism, polytheism, monotheism, or some kind of dualism? What other forms of supernatural prime realities could there be?

Atheist and Agnostic

I'm both.

So are babies. It's the default position.

From what ive heard, an

From what ive heard, an athiest claims there is no god. An agnostic claims they don't know if there's are gods or not. The two things are really pretty simliar when you boil it down, because ill bet most agnostics put the odds of a "Christian-like" god existing somewhere close to less than .0001% even if they won't say outright its impossible. If you really press an athiest, you'll likley get the same answer.

Now there are some things that Christians claim their God can do, which I will say 100% are impossible. And so in this way, you could call me an athiest in at least as far as the Christian God is concerned. For example:

Perfection is impossible: If God is perfect, how come the shit he builds is imperfect. How can a perfect being screw up on humanity so badly that he has to wipe out millions and millions of us multiple times because he screwed us up so freaking bad. If he was perfect and without flaw, he would have created us to perfection. He wouldn't have made us "flawed" because that indicates that God wants to be better than his creation, and that sort of egotism is an imperfection. A perfect being would not suffer from jealousy, and therfore would only create perfection to share existance with, not serfs to rule over and punish for his delight.

If God knows everything, past present and future, doesn't he already know from before he even makes you that you're going to fail and wind up in hell? Isn't it kind of sadistic to put people to a test, where failure results in torture and death when you know well ahead of time they will fail? Isn't that like torturing an English speaking person for failing a Chinese reading test? What kind of sadistic @#$% would do that?

Can God create an object too heavy for him to pick up? People blow this question off and never try to answer. The question is absolute logical evidence that limitless power is impossible. The only possible conclusion to this is that if there is a divine being, he is not limitless in his power. Thefore I can say with 100% surity that the view of the Christian God is impossible. That said, there could be some lesser version who just gets off on making his peons think he is perfect.

If I had to make anything close to an assertion, it would be that one person's "magic" is another man's science. So to me, the odds of their being divine beings who do magic are absolute horseshit. While I won't claim to have proof or that I know for certain, I'd be willing to bet everything I own on that. If there "is" a higher being, which there almost certainly is somewhere in this gigantic universe, its "superiority" comes from a technilogical, biological and/or cultural superiority over us, not magic.

What the thinkers here...

What the thinkers here have to realize is that religious people's brains are not wired to value truth and facts. Their brains are wired to be mindless followers, acceptors of outrageous nonsense. They value "beliefs" and not much more. They assign more weight to faith than to evidence, empiricism, logic and reason. Trying to use facts to persuade them is like trying to teach a dog to use a slide-rule. It will only frustrate the teacher and annoy the dog.

So let these poor faulty-wired brained individuals wallow in their ignorance and ignore them.

my brain may not be wired the

my brain may not be wired the way you like it but at least mine is wired. What is your excuse?

My excuse...

My "excuse" is that I chose my parents well. They were both college graduates with above average intelligence. I inherited their intelligence which has allowed me to test at 140 on a standardized IQ test. I have a university degree in engineering and love to study and learn. That is how I learned how to properly process information and not be fooled by superstition, emotional manipulation and BS.

I don't call it an "excuse" to be enlightened and not ignorant. Perhaps if you tried studying, you too could learn to use words properly and re-wire your brain into something worth having in your cranium.


There are plenty of believers in theism and naturalism of both the thinking and non-thinking varieties.

Go read CS Lewis' 'Miracles' and then tell me theists don't value logic and reasoning.

"They assign more weight to faith

than to evidence, empiricism, logic and reason."

Like the atheistic Randites who accept ontological materialism on faith?

Perhaps it would be helpful

Perhaps it would be helpful if you realized that those you label "the thinkers here" must necessarily hold faith commitments as well, or there would be no thinkers at all. As a small sampling, there are things you yourself offer: logic and reason. A host of unprovable assumptions must hold sway if one is to value logic and reason in this contingent realm of experience.

Everyone has presuppositions - you no less than the religious.

GoodSamaritan's picture

That was brilliant...

as an example of a transparently baseless ad hominem attack. Your screed proves once again that, when at the end of their intellectual rope, wannabe thinkers such as yourself inexorably resort to the last refuge of the intellectually defeated.

Ron Paul - Honorary Founding Father

Ad homien

Take the ad hominem attacks out and the poster is correct. There is a difference between facts and faith.... The difference between knowing something is right and hoping something is right. However, in the original article, the author relates Stalin and Mao to atheism. I am an atheist, and I am a better Christian than most Christians I know!! I am not saying that Stalin and Mao were Satanist, but Satanism is real, and it tends to be prevalent in the upper class, elites and government officials. ("Eyes Wide Shut") Atheist do not worship or believe in God nor Satan. It's the two extremes that we need to worry about!!


Anything that is true is a fact. Regardless of whether you or I have faith in God, if He exists, that is a fact. If He does not exist, that is also a fact.

Faith is the hoping for things unseen, or that some things are facts when they can't yet be proven to be facts. A naturalist has faith that all facts, if/when revealed or discovered will yield no God. The theist has faith that if/when all is revealed, God will be one of those facts.

And someday much, much more will be revealed... :)


Well said sir!

I'm going to steal that if you don't mind.

GoodSamaritan's picture

#8 Thou Shalt Not Steal

But you may borrow it :)

Ron Paul - Honorary Founding Father

I think the distinction is

I think the distinction is that a non-believer simply waits for facts to be revealed before planting the flag and claiming to believe in what is as of now, just a hypothesis(wether well supported or not). Some require more evidence than others before they are willing to put money on a concept, but remain skepticle until the facts support the hypothesis and it becomes a solid theory.

Faith-based minds, on the other hand, seem to require nothing save for well written story which includes a carrot, a stick, and a proper religeous upbringing.

I don't think any athiests hope that the facts, once known will lead away from a god/gods. Personally it would be pretty cool if we discovered that there was some race of creators with amazing powers.

If this "creator" was anything like the old testiment monster though, id run for the hills. If he's just like Jesus, I could almost certainly learn to like him.

GoodSamaritan's picture

Same God, different Covenants - Law vs. Grace

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

But "Doubting Thomas" required more than a "well written story which includes a carrot, a stick, and a proper religious upbringing":

"So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord.' But he said to them, 'Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.'" John 20:25

In my lifetime, I have met countless Christians who mocked Christianity before doing their own investigation, and there are plenty of people who have written about their journey from skeptic to believer. It's important to note that Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:44

Ron Paul - Honorary Founding Father

Like Einstein,

Newton, Mendel, and countless other great scientists who were also believers?
Again, the arrogance of the people pusher who just KNOWS best what everyone else MUST believe or they are stupid, "faulty-wired brained individuals", etc.
I have no issue with your ridiculous prejudices, just your attempt to reduce people to sub-humans.
Your ignorance is embarrassing.

Oops... Not Einstein. And

Oops... Not Einstein. And Newton probably not religiously comparable to the other religious people of his time and location. I'll give you Mendel, but you're probably over-simplifying. He was a monk, but a trained scientist in a time when much scientific inquiry was sub rosa.

All I go by is their record

and their statements. You'll "give me" Mendel,because he was a Catholic monk and possibly religious? Wow.
The most rude and arrogant posters on this site are the frothing and foaming militant atheists who will allow no belief system other than their materialistic nihilism. You don't have to understand Christian theology, just stay off the backs of those who do. But then you couldn't cause division among the Paulians, could you?

So would you argue that

So would you argue that Gustav Mahler was a devout Catholic?

In the times when the church had all the money and all the power and dissenters were executed, it is not unreasonable to think some of the people were acting out of fear instead of belief.

Do you believe that all or most of the North Koreans mourning the death of their leader were really that upset about it?

Do you believe that Saddam Hussein really had the support of 99% of the population that voted for him?

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the point. So, if you want to be simplistic about something you nor I have any real way of knowing, yes, I'll give you Mendel. Darwin was a clergyman, too.

And now according to you I'm a militant atheist? Wow back at you.

No scientists were/are ever really religious,

they were just threatened into it and feared for their lives. Thank you for explaining your thought process. It is quite...convenient, isn't it?

>>>>In the times when the church had all the money and all the power and dissenters were executed, it is not unreasonable to think some of the people were acting out of fear instead of belief.<<<<

You mean sort of like now when religious people are smeared as irrational and threatened with loss of jobs and grant funding if they don't produce "science" that supports state worshipper dogma?

>>>>>I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the point. So, if you want to be simplistic about something you nor I have any real way of knowing, yes, I'll give you Mendel. Darwin was a clergyman, too.<<<<

Calling me simplistic is rather rich, coming from you.

Some men of science were

Some men of science were believers. Some still are, though probably not a very high percentage. You seem to be denying that the church had a history of terror and torture. This is not controversial. Spanish Inquisition, Salem Witch Trials, just to name a few. Men who studied the cosmos and realized the earth was not the center of the universe were threatened or executed. That makes my argument pretty solid.

You have little reason to act as if religious people in America, especially Christians, are the martyrs today. The church is not as strong as it once was, but we would do well to remember how it behaved when it was.

In any case, regardless of your beliefs, your posts are vitriolic. It makes me think I'm talking to a college kid, so I'm not going to waste any more time.

rpazzer not being nickpicky but...

Newton was an extremely devout Christian who wrote more on biblical Chronology (history) than he ever did on Scientific matters. In fact he wrote an amazing commentary on the book of Daniel as well (There is no reason why a "social believer" would spend more years writing about something he was not passionate about, than what he was most famous for. BTW, just fyi, he believed the world was created in 4000 B.C. so He may have been a man of his times, but he was extremely devout. Mendel was a devout Catholic and many of the "fathers" of specific scientific fields were devout Christians. We can all argue about whether they were christians b/c of their times, but it can also be argued that many of the worlds brilliant scientists today are agnostic or athiestic b/c of the times in which they live. We should not discount or belittle social reasons for belief OR non-belief .

But I totally agree on Einstein, I think ppl need to stop using him as an example of "believing" scientists. He was an agnostic. He had several quotes that were misleading in that manner.

Maybe so, but Newton was a

Maybe so, but Newton was a very peculiar man. Why didn't he publish more scientific research? Well, who knows, but we do know that he was incredibly sensitive to criticism and questioning. When he delivered his work in front of the royal Academy of Sciences, he expected rousing applause, but got scrutiny. This affected him deeply. He was prone to fits of deep depression. On the other hand, he would become so obsessed with his thoughts of the moment that it was said he would sit up in bed as if to get up and begin his day, but instead would sit there captivated by his own thoughts for hours. He was always moving from one idea to the next... no time to publish.

Maybe he was religious, but he was an innovator on ideas about the workings of the cosmos, and cannot be expected to have thought similarly about religion as did many of his neighbors.

It was not unusual for a learned man of the time to write upon a religious text. To derive from this that he was devout may be a mistake.

The Baptist has 1 post in 10 months

and @ 100 comments...most that are antagonistic or appear to try and get a rise out of people. I need to start checking profiles more quickly before I start debating with idiots and/or trolls.


Curious message

I just cannot understand why it's suddenly ok to push for tolerance between these two groups. I'm sorry but it doesn't make any sense to me.

I do understand trying to stop the conflicts. I understand trying to say that there's good in all people. I even understand that many (most?) of each side is supposedly benign to the other's existence and daily life.

But that last one still presents a problem for me. If one puts some intellectual capital on the line and looks at this to its depths, they simply cannot come to that conclusion. Believing the wrong way very much is a bad hindrance to society and civilization.

Now that you've considered that much from 'your' POV, I'll elaborate enough to reveal my cards. I see religion in all forms (except maybe Wicca) as a brainwashing that devastates personal and group motivation.

This concept is prevalent everywhere but it takes lots of experience to identify it. Every time someone says "oh well... ", they have given in and allowed circumstances to rule the day. This happens on both sides but giving justification to that dangerous phrase perpetuates it. That, to me, is beyond sheepism. Every time someone says "because xyz religion / book / deity says so...", that person is sacrificing their ability to reason out why things are or should be a certain way. Ways this has caused problems abound throughout history. I'm not going into the tired old arguments that show how this has (and still does) lead to wars and conquering because I believe the larger problem is personal apathy. I believe this has basically trained people to succumb more easily to the commercialization, political rule and dumbing down issues we discuss here.

The other big problem I have with this article is that he seems to take the atheist side but concedes that morality either comes from god or doesn't exist. Why can't morality come from social convention? We all have many rules we live by in society that we agree on simply because they make some interaction easier. We agree that red means stop, green means go, which side of the road to drive on and even the thousands of rules of communication like letter formation, word construction, sentence structure and document uses. These are not written down and kept handy for frequent use by each person and they are not enforced at gunpoint yet each person adheres to them without claiming its some form of tyranny. Why can't we agree that morals of higher value and importance follow that same trend. At the highest level, we have even agreed to give them a unique label - rights. As I've said before (with many agreeing), rights are variable with changes subject to what culture we live in and what era we live in. I even doubt that our current rights list will be unchanged a century from now. However, I do believe that we can agree that they are the one thing that society has universally agreed not to infringe on while they are in place. (Yeah yeah, barring corrupt politicians!) Why do we have to weigh their value based on who gave them to us? That is a straw man argument that distracts and divides us. Just face it, we agreed "in this country" or "in this state" or whatever so if you don't like it, leave. See what I mean? Where we got them matters not one bit. Even the adjoining phrase in our founding documents about them can be taken multiple ways but the ultimate meaning is that they should stand.

So, if morals (and rights) come from social convention, then why is there any connection at all tying them to religion? I don't see any argument that can make me do wrong (go against social convention as I perceive it) just because I make claims that morals are long term fungible. They are like laws. We understand the rule of law here on DP and that those are hard rules we all agree to put in place and abide by. Why should morals be any different. They are simply non-enforceable by the state and left to peer pressure. Kind of like being between regulations/ordinances and Cosmo's/GQ's tips for polite society.

My last point of contention is that atheism is the opposite of religion. I really hate this argument. Atheism, IMHO, is not the opposite of anything. It is a label put on people who use logic, reason and the scientific method of discerning information to put an understanding to all he sees around him. If I choose to value my trust that the following statements are true and valid FOR ALL CASES, then I MUST follow that by assumptions that others MUST be (not can be) invalid. Try to follow this logic.

There are millions of animal species that exist today which would drown in a global flood. Millions of animal pairs cannot ever fit into a single boat. From this, we can allow two options: The ark story is not 100% factual or millions of new species were created since the flood story.

Regardless of which path this discussion (or hundreds of others) takes, either the bible is outright false or innocently false. There are no other choices. This, and the fact that there is zero factual evidence proving its divinity) discounts the argument that it is 100% divinely written and that leads to the possibility that it is 100% hoax. When reaching this point, I must continue and ask if there is motive and opportunity for it to be a hoax. Obviously, there are thousands of ways that each era in history supports this. Therefore, simplicity must rule until further proof is found on either side. Until then, I will continue to believe scientific facts that I trust and I will continue to be as good of a person as I can be because that makes me feel good and it fosters the good in my peers and children. That is the only way I can work towards making the world a better place.

Set of rules...

How are rights variable to the culture and era we live in? It was wrong to steal 1000 years ago, and it's still we have a right to keep our property. How do we know it's wrong? We feel it, we know it...without logic and reason. I guess some people don't kill because they don't want to be killed (wouldn't that be logical?), but others don't kill because it's wrong, they can feel that it's wrong.

Now, these social rules, followed in the same manner as common courtesy and traffic well are they going to work? I mean how many times a day do people run a red light? Or drive on the wrong side of the road? Or use incorrect grammar? Or for that many times a day do people steal, assault, rape and kill? How does each person adhere to these rules, when it's blatantly obvious that they don't?

Webster had a definition of religion which included this line... a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

Now ardor just means extreme vigor or energy, and faith can be defined as something that is believed, especially with strong conviction.

Well if we believe with extreme energy and a strong conviction that murder is wrong, then we should make a rule to outlaw it...that is a start to our shared set of rules. You can imagine a few more. Wouldn't that technically be religion? What's so bad about that?

BTW, there is definitely another choice about your proposition of the bible being outright false or innocently false, what if you just misinterpreted it?

Most of us are badly brainwashed, and it's deep, it's still in us. We might think we've washed it away and we're okay now, but it's deep, keep scrubbing (and I don't mean it in a negative way, I mean it in a constructive way...and no I'm nowhere near perfect, gotta plenty of scrubbing to do myself).